Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Best NHL draft picks have a certain intangible

Jets call it being 'a hockey player'

  • Print

All draft picks have something that caught a scout's eye, but going from prospect to pro takes more than speed or size or shootout skills. You have to be... a player.

"We're looking for hockey players. The guys that do the little things right. You're up 3-2 and the other team pulls the goalie, you're looking for the guy that passes the puck instead of shooting it," said Jets assistant GM Craig Heisinger. "Everybody has their term. At the end of the day we're looking for what we call hockey players. That doesn't get said about every guy that plays. There are some that we look at and say, 'that's a hockey player.' Those guys separate themselves when put in a situation like this."

The Jets will welcome their prospect class to Winnipeg on Thursday morning and put them through a quick skate before whisking them off to Penticton, B.C. to take part in the Vancouver Canucks Young Stars tournament, featuring the youth of the Canucks, Jets, Sans Jose Sharks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.

GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, Heisinger and head coach Claude Noel will be among the Jets staffers watching from the stands.

"One of the scout's favourite slogans is, 'the outline of the player is there.' There's a lot that goes into determining whether there's enough to fill out that outline of the player," said Heisinger. "It comes down to things like effort and compete and will. Hockey sense. The outline is the vision, the size, the skating, the strength. The rest of it is what makes up a hockey player."

The Jets already know the statistical side of their draft picks, now they're looking to find out more about them as actual players when put in a setting against the best of their age.

"The rookie tournament is to get that peer group together that will hopefully grow up to one day be Winnipeg Jets. You get to see them as players against their peer group," said Heisinger. "We'll see them in social situations and game situations and see how they react."

The Jets will have prospects on the verge such as Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba in Penticton, as well as hopefuls like Nick Petan and first-round pick Josh Morrissey.

The club is getting closer to establishing the organizational depth at the prospect level Cheveldayoff has been aiming for since taking over the team.

"It's at times like this tournament where it's clear we're becoming the Winnipeg Jets and not the transplanted Atlanta Thrashers," said Heisinger. "We have three drafts under our belt, so for the most part these are our players that the Winnipeg Jets have drafted and believe in."

The Jets have continually preached a message of draft, develop and retain. This summer Cheveldayoff re-signed a number of young free agents to long-term deals. Now he's hoping his work at the draft table can begin to supply his organization with young players pushing for work with the AHL's St. John's IceCaps and the NHL's Jets.

Scheifele is likely to crack the Jets lineup out of camp and Trouba is also a possibility. Players such as Adam Lowry, J.C. Lipon and Brenden Kichton will fight for work in St. John's.

"We would like to have a bunch of young guys in St. John's that come up together. That work together and learn together and maybe win together down there and then maybe make the step to the next level together," said Heisinger. "That's how you get better. Look at the Ottawa Senators, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Boston Bruins. Those guys have come up as a group. Tried to win in the AHL, and then it translates to the NHL."

Most of all, Heisinger says this is a chance for players to introduce themselves.

"These are the opportunities players have to take advantage of. They'll have management and coaches all looking at them. They can show us something," he said. Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 4, 2013 D1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Mia Rabson breaks down the federal budget

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Gardening Column- Assiniboine Park English Garden. July 19, 2002.
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.


How do you feel about the federal budget?

View Results

Ads by Google